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Chigger and Tick Control  RSS feed

 
Posts: 105
Location: Western OK, avg rain 23" hazards: drought, tornado, wildfire
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I am moving to Western Oklahoma to re-homestead my great-grandparents land. I was super-sensitive to chiggers 15 years ago and doubt that has changed. Once attacked by chiggers I itched for three months and swigged Benadryl and took bleach baths to get a little relief. I wear permethrin infused clothes with pants tucked into socks or boots and shirt tucked into pants. My misery was so extreme that I may tape my cuffs to myself when working on the land. Shoes will be sprayed with DEET unless ya'll have healthier successful solutions.
Also, I will be camping out so would like ideas for chigger and tick control around my living area. James Whitelaw mentioned cedar oil. One of my first projects is to cut down 200 or so small (7-15') invasive red cedar trees. Perhaps they can be used in some way to repel ticks?
Happy to be here,
denise
 
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Denise,

Some of the products designed as alternatives to permethrin are Wondercide or Cedarcide which I believe are similar products that are safe for use near or on humans or pets and use cedar oil as a primary ingredient. Wondercide says it kills chiggers and interrupts their lifecycle in the answered questions on their page on Amazon.

I’ve never had much trouble with chiggers (mostly a southern or midwestern issue) but had a reaction to a fire ant exposure that lasted months. One thing for ticks that prevents them from attaching, at least below the belt, is something I learned Navy Seals use when crouching in brush = panty hose. I’ve tried them and they work

As to your cedar trees, hard to say whether there is enough cedar oil to be really effective. I cribbed this info from Mother Earth News on chiggers...hope it helps:

Chigger Control

Begin by avoiding shady areas of tall grass and brush, and regularly mow areas where children play. Short grass gives chiggers fewer hiding places at midday. “They are really not very hardy and can’t take much sunlight,” Wildman says.

In other parts of your property, chiggers are likely present in large numbers in some spots, while places only 10 feet away may be chigger-free. So, one person in a berry-picking party may suffer multiple bites while another remains untouched. This is because female chiggers, which begin hatching from overwintered eggs when temperatures rise above 60 degrees, lay eggs in clusters, and hatchlings don’t stray far from each other. Thousands may wait patiently in leaves and grass until a mouse, lizard or errant human walks past. Then, attracted by the carbon dioxide the animal exhales, the chigger larvae quickly scurry to find a place to feed. On a warm day, they can make it from your shoe to your waistband in only 15 minutes.

This clustering — and the fact that long, humid summers can produce three generations of chiggers — makes broadcasting insecticides ineffective. Plus, many chemicals once used to control chiggers have been banned from home use, Goff says.

Some chigger fighters identify “hot spots” by propping up squares of black cardboard vertically around their yards. If the mites are nearby, they will crawl to the top of the cardboard and can be seen with a magnifying glass. Setting out a chunk of dry ice on a white sheet also will attract chiggers because they are drawn to carbon dioxide.

The problem with both approaches, however, is that they attract other kinds of mites as well. The ones you find may not be chiggers. Besides, anyone who gets close enough to watch them probably will be itching soon.

Stinky stuff keeps chiggers away. The Karankawa tribe knew this. That’s why these Gulf Coast dwellers slathered themselves with alligator grease. A smelly-but-dry modern alternative is sulphur powder (available at pharmacies); it’s an effective repellent for people who aren’t bothered by the odor. Just shake your socks in a plastic bag with a tablespoon of the powder before going outside. Those more accepting of chemical methods may choose over-the-counter repellents containing diethyltoluamide (DEET) as a less pungent repellent.

Experts recommend wearing long sleeves and tall boots, and stuffing your pants into your socks when venturing into chigger territory. Then, shower and wash your clothes as soon as you can. Some chiggers wander about for hours before finding a place to feed, so you often have time to wash them off. If it’s too hot to dress defensively, stop every half hour or so and vigorously rub your skin, including those soft, tender spots that chiggers love (waistband and underarms). Chiggers brush off rather easily, but because they are too small to cause a tickle, it’s important to rub yourself down before you start itching.

When the itching starts, the parasites often are long gone, and we’re left with bright red bumps that drive us crazy for as long as two or three weeks. Antihistamines, hydrocortisone creams and cool compresses will help provide relief. Benadryl, a topical antihistamine, comes in gel, cream, spray and “itch stick” form. A dab of fingernail polish may remind you not to scratch, but it does nothing to cure the itch.

When the six-legged larvae are done feeding (this can take from one to several days), they drop off the hosts and transform into eight-legged nymphs, which mature to the adult stage. Adult chiggers prefer eggs of springtails, isopods and mosquitoes to humans and animals.

 
denise ra
Posts: 105
Location: Western OK, avg rain 23" hazards: drought, tornado, wildfire
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James Whitelaw, Thank you for this info and the links. I did not know there are such compounds. I guess if I wanted to make cedar oil I would need a still of some sort. Too great of a fire hazard with the current drought. I wonder if chipping the cedars and spreading the chips around would help? It might keep the orange mud from getting in everything at the campsite.
denise
 
pollinator
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I do not have Chiggers here, but did get attacked one time when I worked for the railroad. I feel your pain...

For tick control, we use ducks waddling around our yard. Incidentally they take out snakes, frogs and toads too. (On the snakes though, this is Maine so they do not get big here, nor are they poisonous).
 
James Whitelaw
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Denise, chipping the cedar wouldn’t hurt for IMO FOR pathways and you could always spray them to make less attractive to chiggers/ticks, both species that need moisture and are repelled by dry areas. We keep the area around the house mowed short and do not have a lot of foliage close in to help with the tick issue. Keeping leaf litter and at the edges of the yard, essentially creating a dry border they won’t cross. 

Not a fan of adding any plastic to the landscape, but, I recently came across a product, a hexagonal plastic mat that has a weed barrier underneath which laid on flat surfaces can be filled with crushed stone (or soil & grass seed) as an alternative to paving and is rated for handicap access and can withstand the weight of vehicles. Something like that I guess could be employed to create a tick barrier, very low/no maintenance.  We’re definitely going to replace some old eroding pavement we park on with these permeable mats.
 
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I have a natural products line, part of which is a product against ticks (and fleas, mosquitoes, etc.) I came up with the concoction against the ticks when a few of my customers contacted me asking if I would figure out something that works against them. They had tried the Wondercide and Cedarcide and said it did not work, that they were still getting lots of ticks on themselves as well as their dogs. The ones that contacted me specifically about that live in the NE, however, where the tick pressure is intense. Perhaps the Cedarcide is still effective where the tick presence is not as high.
 
pioneer
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Posts: 1955
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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I have used powdered sulfur all my life for repelling chiggers and ticks.  When we go out in the tall grass we always dust our clothing with it.  Dust around ankles, inside socks, etc. When doing this I have never gotten any bites.  It is the best chigger and tick repellent.

When working in the garden and I forget to use it, a quick shower usually prevents any bites.  If I get some bites, I rub them with the sulfur and the bites heal quickly.

Also the panty hose trick works too.  You can buy specially clothing to repel them that are like the compression pants.

You could probably dust garden paths with the sulfur and after a while the chiggers and ticks might go away.
 
denise ra
Posts: 105
Location: Western OK, avg rain 23" hazards: drought, tornado, wildfire
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Where do I buy sulfur? What kind of store has it?
 
Anne Miller
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Posts: 1955
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Farm stores (feed/seed) have it.  It is used for gardening purposes.  You might find it at drug stores in smaller quantities.

Tractor Supply has it and you can probably find it at Amazon or Walmart.

Mine is US Star (brand name) Dusting Sulfur for the control of chiggers, mites, red spiders and powdery mildew.

Mine is a plastic tub (abt 2 qt.) with a lid that we keep an old sock in.  Just take out the sock and rub on clothes, ankles, wrists, etc.

 
pioneer
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I have ticks at my place, and probably chiggers. I have some velcro straps I scavenged off medical boot things that I wear every day. I fold my pants leg flat at the ankle, and wrap the strap around. Kind of like taping, but easy to get off and on, and stays in place well. I have had no issues, so either it's working, or the bugs aren't attracted to me these days. I had major problems when we were  property shopping, but haven't since I started dressing well for the bugs. I can get you pictures of my straps if you want.
Wearing pantyhose seems to work too, but strapping my pants keeps me a bit cooler when I work.

Cedar chip paths sound like they would work several ways, not only chemically repellent, but no good hidey holes for them, so you can walk safely. I think I'm going to use that idea, thank you!! Cedar does burn easily, take that into consideration when you choose where to put it.
 
pollinator
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Location: Zone 4, SD
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Grew up on a central TX ranch and we used sulfur around the yard to help combat ticks and chiggers and repel snakes.  My older brother had a close encounter with a snake while camping with some friends and after that, a container was kept in the bins where we stored our camping gear so it made it on every camping trip.  A ring of sulfur was dusted in a big circle around the campsite and designated bathroom area to keep rattlers away.   Was told that they smell with their tongues and don't like the way the sulfur smells/tastes. 

I am up north now so chiggers are not a problem, but started to use it again for snake during the worst of snake season since I seem to attract rattle snakes and getting bitten once was more than enough.

I do have a horrendous problem with ticks - or I did, but my guinea fowl and Muscovy ducks seem to have taken care of the worst of it.  Used to be between the middle of may and end of June, I could walk into the back yard and back into the house almost immediately and still have a tick or two on me.  Stay for any time and I'd have 5 or 8.  This entire season I've gotten only a total of 4 ticks on me so far and that I believe is because my guinea team is down to one. 

Good luck!
 
denise ra
Posts: 105
Location: Western OK, avg rain 23" hazards: drought, tornado, wildfire
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I wonder if a lotion with sulfur in it would work and if that would be bad for our bodies? Sulfur overload or toxicity? Also does eating sulfury foods, for instance, garlic and onion help anyone?
 
Anne Miller
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bee dog food preservation greening the desert hunting cooking purity trees
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You can buy products with sulfur in it though these are much more expensive.  A friend used to use sulfur powder as a face mask until she left it on too long and had a reaction.

Sulfur is a proven natural and effective acne treatment Helps minimize the appearance of pores with refined skin tone and texture  Leaves skin with a refreshed healthy glow



https://www.amazon.com/Acnefree-Therapeutic-Sulfur-Mask-Ounce/dp/B003K75SDY?th=1

And yes eating it is said to work.
 
denise ra
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Location: Western OK, avg rain 23" hazards: drought, tornado, wildfire
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Good news from the OUS extension brochure Fire Effects in native plant Communities:
"Fire Effects on Parasites and Diseases
Some of Oklahoma’s troublesome pests, such as ticks and disease-causing fungi, can be controlled with fire. However, for most parasites, control by fire last only during the growing season after fire. Oklahoma’s tourism industry suffers economic loss each year because of the public’s perception of ticks and chiggers in parks, campgrounds, and other recreational facilities. Ticks pose a serious health risk to humans, pets, livestock, and wildlife because of the diseases they can carry. Oklahoma ranks among the top states for cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in humans each year. Lyme’s disease and other infections can also be transmitted to humans. Domestic animals can also contract fatal diseases from ticks. Decreased livestock production can cost livestock producers thousands of dollars each year. Research has shown that burning annually significantly reduces populations of both internal and external parasites in birds and mammals."
http://factsheets.okstate.edu/documents/nrem-2877-fire-effects-in-native-plant-communities/
 
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